The Department of Basic Education says it has noted with concern misleading media reports and social media posts claiming that learners could leave school in Grade 9, saying this is not the truth.
“It seems the reports emanate from a misinterpretation of what Minister Angie Motshekga said yesterday, 26 September at the SADTU National Congress at Nasrec.
“As a result the message communicated by media reports is unfortunately causing confusion as it is not a true reflection of what the Minister meant in her speech,” the department said in a statement.
It clarified that the Minister said: “The Field Trial for the General Education Certificate (GEC) at the end of Grade 9 is scheduled for completion at the end of July 2020.
“A draft framework for the GEC has been developed. Assessment and examination modalities for the GEC are being investigated and have been presented at the HEDCOM meeting. The Technical Occupational subjects have been packaged and submitted to Umalusi for approval.”
The GEC certificate is predicated on the 3-Stream Model which has the academic pathway, the technical vocational pathway and the technical/occupational pathway.
The plan aims to send more learners into technical education.
“Under the technical vocational stream, there was a target of 10 000 artisans per year. The department has also introduced new subjects – technical mathematics and technical science – which could be referred to as applied mathematics and applied science.
“These were relevant in supporting areas of specialisation and schools that offer these subjects were currently being unveiled in different parts of the country with the majority of them presently launched in Gauteng.”
With regard to the strategic direction, the department said it was responding to international protocols and obligations of which South Africa was part, and the Sustainable Development Goal 4 was important in this regard.
“The public discussion on the GEC certificate is not new as it took place earlier this year when it was first raised in January,” the department said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned the GEC in three speeches earlier this year. In all three speeches, what was communicated was that GEC would facilitate the pathways between schools and colleges at a level below Grade 12.
Apart from facilitating the transition from school to college, the department said a GEC would address the current problem of hundreds of thousands of young people leaving education completely each year with no national qualification with which to navigate the labour market.
“The purpose of awarding a General Education Certificate (GEC) is to equip learners with the values, knowledge and skills that will enable or enhance meaningful participation in society, contribute towards developing sustainable communities, provide a basis for learning in further education and training, and establish a firm foundation for skills develop that will prepare learns for the workplace (SAQA: 2001),” said the department.
Offering a GEC is not an indication of the exit of learners from a learning pathway in schools but provides better decision-making for and access to further learning after Grade 9, the Basic Education Department said.